Whiteboards are a valuable teaching aid for almost any subject. If you simply stand and talk, you’ll lose the students who process information better visually. However, if you combine an effective whiteboard presentation with an enthusiastic delivery, you’ll be able to reach all your students. If you are new to teaching then here are 6 tips for using whiteboards effectively.
1. Clean the board first
Many teachers like to put information up on the whiteboard before the start of the lesson. However, if you’d rather write as you go, make sure you clean the board thoroughly before class starts. Make sure you have a whiteboard eraser handy at all times.
2. Make sure your ink doesn’t run out
If there’s one thing that’s sure to ruin a good lesson, it’s when your pen dries out. The marker pen squeaks and the writing is so pale it’s illegible. So throw out your old markers and get some new ones.
3. Keep your handwriting legible
Don’t scribble something on the board and expect the person in the last row to be able to read it. If it’s worth writing on the board, it’s worth writing it legibly. P-r-i-n-t e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g - if that’s what it takes to make your scrawl legible.
4. Make sure your writing can be read from any point in the room
One thing that is commonly overlooked is to make sure that every participant of a lesson involving the use of a whiteboard can easily read what is written on the board. Putting aside the problem of neat handwriting then this is just an issue of choosing the size of the letters.
But the challenge is — how do you control the size of letters? When you use a computer it is very easy — just set the font size. But when you draw, the only reliable measuring tool is yourself. So the answer is easy - use your fingers.
Before a lesson starts, write three text samples of progressing size: one finger high, two fingers high and three fingers high. Then walk to the farthest end of the room to assess how legible the writing is.
In most cases two fingers high is just fine. For larger rooms you might need the larger, three fingers high texts. A great advantage of this method is that you can easily check yourself at any time during the lesson and adjust your writing accordingly.
5. Don’t erase the board without asking first
Something that used to drive me mad when I was a student was when a teacher had done a brilliant job of illustrating a point with a great whiteboard presentation full of words, arrows, and exclamation points then he or she erased the board before I had a chance to copy down all the good stuff.
Some of your students will take notes as you write and others will watch and listen but before you erase the whiteboard to start a new topic, ask the class, “Has everyone finished copying down what you need?“
6. Take a picture!
If you consistently do a great job of summarising an important lesson on your whiteboard, consider taking a photo of it before you erase. You can then refer to the picture next time you’re preparing to teach the same lesson.